Wednesday, August 8, 2012

LA Noir / Cops & Gangsters In Old LA

L.A. Noir by John Buntin

Ahh Las Angeles, home to the movie Chinatown, those books by Raymond Chandler, John Ellroy and all the others who have shown the dark side of the city of angles. It is a side drenched in neon, alcohol, cool jazz, hot women, violence, corruption, badmen and the LAPD. But what's the skinny Minnie, what's the real lowdown? Well this book I've just finished gives a nice history of the growth & development of LA's underworld.

It is told through the lives of two of it's most storied players, one from each side of the law. Representing all that is good and true the man they named police headquarters for Chief William Parker. He was an incorruptible force that reformed a a corrupt department and turned the force into the baddest gang in town. With one of the countries most intrusive intelligence gathering networks.

From the other side of the tracks we have the life of gangster Mickey Cohen. Another poor kid from the slums running wild as a youth sucked into the world of illegal, organized vice. A protege of “scarface” Al Capone who worked for before being shipped out of Chicago for being too wild. He ends up out in Los Angeles working for the man who “invented” Las Vegas Bugsy was more like mayor of the strip. Vegas had had gambling since the 1930's when it was legalized with the money of the Chicago mob. Mickey took over the rackets in LA when Bugsy went off to usher in the mega casino Vegas era.

All the stories are here prohibition, the zoot suit riots, the Brenda Allen affair the Watts riots and more. One of my favorites is how Parker used his influence over the TV show Dragnet to have them air an episode designed to get people to support a referendum allowing expanded wiretapping. All and all it's an excellent book offering an insight into a world that has been shown mainly in fiction. It's always interesting to find out what the history is behind the fiction.

On YouTube station ChiTownView we have a series of videos that give some of the history of Chicago crime

Here's a clip that gives some early history of Vegas in it's description..

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